Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Do NOT Try This At Home - Guest Post by Sarah Ballance

Try what, you ask? Let’s start with getting out of bed, and end with trying to do ANYTHING productive. Just...don’t.

In a rare move this morning, I not only jumped up bright and early but even went outside to *gasp* vacuum my car. Actually it’s a 9-passenger behemoth Suburban (car sounds too innocent for this job) and I generally clean it out every month when the payment is due, but I let it go a month or three over the winter because, well, I don’t like being cold. Anyway, I ordered custom floor mats and they were scheduled to arrive today, so I figured it was a great time to clean out the car (if 40 degrees is a great time to do anything but want coffee, that is).

So I grabbed the outside trashcan—we have the really big ones the trucks lift with automated arms—and tugged, because when you have six kids you really need the big trash to clean out the car. And the big trash can didn’t budge. Gee, I thought to myself. It must be full. So I peeked inside. Don’t ask me why I PEEKED, because I actually did lift the lid about a foot and peer inside, and I found...


Er... wait. Random wilderness rats aren’t white, and the biggest rat I’ve ever seen would be dental floss for this hideous thing in my trash. Not. A. Rat. (Whew.) I take a breath (which is a bit of a necessity after screaming bloody murder) and realize it’s an opossum. A really pissed off possum with gigantic fangs. (See the pic? That’s my trash can, my trash, and THE ACTUAL POSSUM.) Now, I’m not afraid of possums, but I hate all mice—even “cute” little field mice—and I hate rats even more. And let’s be honest—anything unexpectedly hissing and snarling from inside the garbage can doesn’t have to be a rat to, erm, startle a person. Or make them run around the yard screaming like a banshee, however they scream.

The kids thought I’d seen a mouse (because apparently I scream the same over a little field mouse as I do when there’s a giant hissing monster in the garbage) and came running. Not to save me, but to laugh. And because they just HAD to see this thing, I was able to take the picture you see here today, at which point I sent it to my husband. Of course he was deeply concerned, and I’m pretty sure all that laughter was to hide his relief I was not maimed by the giant white rat.

We secured the trash can lid so my husband could later escort the critter AWAY, but does the day get better? Pffft!

A few minutes later, I was vacuuming my behemoth Suburban in that cheerful I-pwned-near-death kind of way when my kid comes outside and informs me the oven is on fire. And yes, he was serious. Together we went back to the kitchen and stared at the fire burning inside the oven like a couple of old men discussing the farm report over a bonfire (because that’s what they do—they pick a spot on the ground and stare at it while discussing the weather). We had a rather mundane chat over whether he got to use the fire extinguisher (NO!) and what the heck was burning. It wasn’t the cornbread he’d been baking, and you can’t put water on a grease fire and flour will burn and...okay, this was embarrassing. My dad, after all, is a fire chief. Finally I remembered the grill spatulas and “patted” away the fire, which had grown bored of our observations and largely yawned itself out. Crisis averted.

Back to the car. Between the possum and the fire, I’d managed to vacuum the cargo area. That was where I found my two year old standing with her muddy boots, which were only muddy because my five year old was playing with the water. Great.

I finally got the car vacuumed, and my mats arrived. They fit perfectly. THINGS ARE GOING RIGHT! Then my husband gets home. He’s still laughing over the possum, and he says I’ve done such an awesome job maybe I should clean out the truck. Um, okay. I hauled the vacuum back outside and FIVE HOURS after “The Opossum Incident” I finish cleaning out vehicles. FIVE HOURS. I put the truck back in its spot, then hopped in my Suburban and . . . click. The battery was dead. OF COURSE the battery was dead. That’s what happens when you leave the doors open and the radio blasting for five hours. Now the kid who set the oven on fire and laughed about my possum is stuck hooking up the battery charger while I luxuriate in a long hot shower and vow never to open another garbage can in my life.

And these people wonder why I’d rather write.

And so she has. Sarah has a new book out entitled Last Call, a romantic suspense on sale for only $0.99! Here's the blurb:

In a perilous game of trust, a shocking betrayal deals a dangerous hand.

An accidental witness to a murder-for-hire, ex-cop Rhys Clark becomes the target of ruthless killer—one determined to silence her at any cost. Playing dead seems to be the most likely way to stay alive, but when her protection comes in the form of mega-sexy former adversary Nick Massey, Rhys can think of  a few fates worse than death.

Nick Massey may have walked away from his troubles, but he never got past wanting Rhys. Once paired undercover, they’d been nothing but fireworks until a botched assignment ended her career, sending his into a tailspin. Now a mysterious client threatens Nick’s life if he doesn’t keep Rhys safe, but it isn’t until fate takes a critical turn that he realizes the devastating truth: he’s been her greatest threat all along.

LAST CALL is available from: For the Muse Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords (formats: .mobi, .epub, HTML, PDF, RTF, LRF, PalmDoc, and Plain Text). Click here to add to Goodreads or here for reviews.

EXCERPT of Last Call:

Rhys Clark swore and jerked her foot from the murky puddle that had just claimed one of her new running shoes. Perfect. The day was now officially perfect.

She blamed Nick Massey.

Blaming him was easy enough. She didn’t know which required more nerve on his part—leaving town or crawling back—but both events left her bitter and raw. And wet, she grumbled inwardly. With the sky spitting rain and the occasional pellet of sleet smacking her face, she should have skipped her evening jog. The street was little more than a concrete alley of shuttered businesses, and the bleak weather amplified the emptiness. But tonight, with Nick hot on her mind, running through the cold was her last ditch effort to return to her senses.

It hadn’t worked.

Another blast of icy air howled through the narrow street. If she hadn’t been standing still, she probably wouldn’t have heard the shouting that followed.

A few months ago, an altercation wouldn’t have been unusual in this part of town. But the whole area was under reconstruction. Local crime dissipated to nothing with the razing of several apartment buildings, and until now Rhys had long found her route to be a place of solace. She glanced around as the voices drew closer and more intense. Rapid footsteps smacked the wet pavement. Then the echo of a gunshot cracked the night.

Where fear left her paralyzed, instinct insisted she get out of sight. She looked around and found an unbroken expanse of concrete wall offering few options. Heart pounding, Rhys ducked into the recessed doorway of a vacant storefront and hoped the deep shadows would keep her concealed.
Terrifying seconds passed. The sound of her own suppressed breath roared in her ears.

Voices came, clearer this time. Close.

“If we screw this up…” The words, terse and hushed, were encapsulated in panic.

“Shut up,” demanded a second voice. “No one messed up. He’s as good as dead.”

“You think you’re going to sell that without a body? We didn’t get paid to lose him.”

“He took one to the gut. He won’t get far. We’ll find him.”

“He’s leaving a trail. Blood. We got the big bucks for a clean—”

Shut up.”

A hit? Rhys shuddered, fear scaling her spine. A professional hit would have been silent—something not accomplished by the gunshot or the ensuing conversation—but in this game, experience wasn’t always a prerequisite for willingness to pull the trigger. Two years of undercover work had taught her as much.

So had a bullet.

Rhys froze, waiting for the voices to pass. But luck was not on her side. Rather than drawing away, the footsteps ceased.

“Well, well, well,” said the confident one. “Looks like our little game of hide and seek is over.”
Hope crumbled. The voice was far too close. Had they seen her?

She dared not move. Through her lashes, she saw nothing in her narrow view of the dimly lit street but dirty puddles and the occasional bit of trash plastered to wet pavement. She prayed they didn’t look her way should they walked past.

Grunts erupted nearby, followed by the sound of sneakers scuffling on concrete. Then two shots fired, and all sounds of struggle gave way to profane celebration.

In the same instant, a man fell to the sidewalk in front of Rhys. His eyes, sightless and familiar, bore into her.

She choked a gasp.

A man stepped into her line of sight, his weapon at the ready. Before she could stop herself, she locked eyes with him. Big mistake. The decision threw her into a cloud of emotional shrapnel, the past flying at her in shards. She’d been shot once before.

It hadn’t ended well.

The gunman opened his mouth and formed an ugly grin, his breath coming in visible puffs through yellowed teeth. “Looks like a double header tonight, T,” he said, never taking his gaze off Rhys.

“Whaddya mean?” came the reply. The voice . . . she blinked until the second man shifted into focus.

She knew him. From where? She couldn’t think.

She glanced to the dead man, and her vision wavered. Panic shifted her world into a screen of jarred pixels, the flashback jagged and severe.

Rhys! Stay with me, Rhys. Do you hear me? Rhys!”

Blood. So much blood.

“Nick.” She touched his face, feeling stubble beneath her fingertips. Then the weight of her arm was too much; as gravity won he slipped away. The world twisted into a sickening spiral until all that was left was his voice, the desperation in his tone bringing warmth to the darkness.


Motion jarred her to the present.

The gunman gestured. “Our witness here is about to have an unfortunate accident.” He raised the weapon, aiming for the kill.

It was a short view down the barrel at point blank range. She expected that.

What she didn’t anticipate was the speed with which he pulled the trigger.

Or how quickly the pain hit.

Want more? Check out Sarah's other stories. Though she adores nail-biting mystery and edge-of-your-seat thrillers, Sarah writes in many genres including contemporary and ghostly paranormal romance. Her ever-growing roster of releases may be found at http://sarahballance.com

Website: http://www.sarahballance.com/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4103362.Sarah_Ballance

Thanks for stopping by and happy reading! :)


  1. LMAO!!! This is something that would happen to me, too! Things just always seem to go from bad to worse. Thanks for sharing your story and awesome photo (that thing looks vicious!) and best of luck with the new book!

    1. Thanks so much, Michelle! Oh, if you could have heard the hissing. It was HORRIBLE! Right out of a B-list horror movie, lol!

  2. LOL...that's quite a day and I don't blame you for just wanting to write. Glad you survived the wild animals (not your kids but the ratty thingy), the smoke signals and the cleaning!

    Enjoyed your blurb too...congrats on your release :)

    1. Thank you, Christine! I swear, I hog ALL the excitement. You guys are free to take some for yourself, LOL. I'm TOTALLY willing to share! *grin*

  3. OMG, Sarah! All I can do is shake my head. No, I'm not laughing. Honest! Snickering, maybe. :o) I know how hard you worked on Last Call, so Congratulations on its release; I love it.

    1. Thank you, Karen! You're going to have ALLLL the good blackmail stories on me, lol. (BTW, I can see you. You're *totally* laughing! LOL!)

  4. Thanks so much for your hospitality today, Siobhan! I'm still shuddering over this incident, lol.

  5. Sarah, I <3 you and I completely understand your day, mine are quite the same, minus one kid. I am so glad to have met you and share the experiences of having a large family, and a writing career.


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